“Where are the backpacks?” my husband, Jimmy, queried from the front seat, “do you see them back there?”
I was sitting in the third row of my father-in-law’s Suburban, which had just pulled up in front of the airport. “What? I don’t see them back here!” I shouted.
“Did I leave them at the house?” Jimmy asked, fear beginning to swell.
“I don’t know! I didn’t pack the car!” I frantically replied.
It wasn’t the backpacks themselves that were sending us into a tizzy. It was the contents of those backpacks...well, one backpack. My two-year-old daughter, Nora’s, bears. Lovies, as some call them, featured a bear head sewn to a little square of blanket that every baby grows an attachment to during infanthood. We had two identical purple bears, and both were shoved into her Dora backpack, sitting in the hallway of Grandma’s house. How were we going to survive a plane trip from Texas to Virginia without them?
Jimmy checked his watch. “There’s no time to go back for them,” he told his father, “but keep your phone close in case our flight is delayed.” Of all the bad luck, our flight was running precisely on time.
“It’s my fault,” Jimmy said, “I’m the one that packed the car.”
“No, it’s my fault,” I declared, “I never should have trusted you to do it right!”
But our moment of marital harmony was quickly drowned out by the rising terror of just what our hours in the air were going to be like with no bears.
No bears = No nap = A river of tears. We checked our luggage and headed to security. “Let’s stop at the gift shop and get her something else to hug at least,” Jimmy suggested.
Meanwhile, Grandma had rushed to the post office to overnight the purple duo back to Virginia. It’ll be one bad night, we thought, and hopefully she’ll be so tired, she’ll just pass out. The two flights went surprisingly well, considering! Having had no nap, sweet little Nora went the way of pure giddiness and was laughing at every little thing like a drunken sorority girl. I knew controlling her insanity would swing the pendulum the other way - into pure fury - so I let her do as she pleased, as long as it wasn’t disturbing our fellow passengers.
Yes, I was “That Mom” who allowed her toddler to hang her legs over the arm rest, dangling naked feet into the aisle, showing off London and France to anyone who cared to look, while laughing riotously at just what she was getting away with.
Please, don’t judge. Trust me, the alternative would have been much, much worse. Fast forward to bedtime. Despite our late landing in Newport News, and our even later homecoming in Virginia Beach, Nora still had plenty of energy to expel over her lost bears. “Purple BEAR!” she wailed, finally passing out in her daddy’s arms.
The next day we were back to business as usual around our household. Up until naptime. “Grandma said the bears would be here by 3:00,” Jimmy said, “let’s hold off on naps until then.” But there was still no package, and Jimmy was growing impatient. He entered the tracking number online and, to his horror, saw that the package had yet to leave Texas.
Consequently, naptime involved Nora passing out on the couch with Daddy to the sound of the Olympics on television.
Desperate, we decided to take Grandma’s advice, and drove her to the store to look for a new bear. But pickings were slim in the baby aisle, and nothing was even close to purple. Regardless, little Nora fell in love with a tan moose sporting an embroidered bee on the blanket. No matter. Bedtime was just as horrid as the night before.
The following day, knowing our mail always comes late in the afternoon, the girls and I headed out to the grocery store. What we came home to was a “Sorry We Missed You” notice in our mailbox. Noooo!!!
That afternoon, Jimmy was, once again, attempting to pull off naptime bear-less, while I cleaned up the kitchen. Taking out the trash, I spotted it - that little white angular truck making it’s way down our street. Knowing it would make a right turn onto another street before reaching my driveway, I raced into the house and snatched up the delivery notice. The thought of shoes crossed my mind, then left it as I spied the tiny buckles on the strappy sandals I had worn that morning. “Nope,” I thought, “no time to buckle, I’ve got to get to that mail truck!”
Barefoot, determinedly marching the scant block down the street, I caught him just before he made that pivotal turn. “Do you still have this with you?” I near-shouted, wild-eyed and holding up the delivery slip as an explanation for my demeanor.
“You know I do!” he answered with a casual smile, as if it was perfectly normal for crazed women to chase him down the street.
The moment Nora had her bears back, she shoved one in her mouth and, peaceful again, fell fast asleep.
As I came downstairs and listened to the quiet static of the baby monitor, I realized one very important lesson: Never, ever put all your bears in one backpack!
Jennifer Tackett-Hilton is a Virginia Beach transplant (originally from Iowa) and Old Dominion University graduate who swore she'd never date a Navy man.... but never said she wouldn't marry one! Jennifer and her Prince Charming have two adorable (and precocious!) princesses, ages 2 and 5, and one furry pooch, Eddie.
In the (precious little) spare time she has, she enjoys crafting, shopping for new craft supplies, and writing on her blogs, EverAfterLand.com and JenEverAfter.com. You can find her on Facebook at http://facebook.com/everafterland and follow her on http://twitter.com/jeneverafter and http://pinterest.com/jeneverafter.